Dressing the Mother of the Bride: Our Best Tips!

As seen in Southern Weddings  By Emily Thomas

One of our favorite parts of the Southern Weddings community is that it’s not just brides reading and participating, it’s moms, sisters, cousins, and friends, too! Moms, especially, come to us for advice on aspects of wedding planning that are often very different from when they got married, and we’re happy to help. Today, Terrie Tibbetts Martin, co-owner of T. Carolyn, a store specializing in mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses in Houston, is sharing her best tips for brides helping their mamas find their perfect dresses!



Encourage her to begin shopping early. Most mothers underestimate how long it can take to order a dress if the right size or color is not in stock. It’s been my experience that mothers always put themselves last, because they are busy taking care of everyone else! See to it that just this once, she thinks of herself. She should begin looking for her dress as soon as the bride has selected hers, it’s ok to begin looking for the mother’s dress even if the bride hasn’t made a final decision on the attendants’ dresses.

Give both mothers plenty of moral support. They may put on a brave face, but choosing a dress for such an important event can be stressful for moms. There’s a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to look good, and most will tell you they don’t have the same figures as when they were brides. Every mother is on a diet. Come alongside your mom and your groom’s mom with plenty of love and encouragement.

Make dress shopping a special occasion. If you’re able, plan to set aside a day to scout options with your mom or future mother-in-law at a few local stores or boutiques. Just as most brides want their moms present for dress shopping, most moms probably feel the same way! To cap off the day, take her out to lunch as a thank you for all she’s done so far with wedding planning.


Photo by Jess Barfield from Abby + Cameron’s wedding


Encourage her to wear a color she looks fantastic in. Not only will she feel great in her dress, but the wedding pictures will turn out better if everyone looks comfortable and confident. An added benefit of being open to color is that it automatically gives moms more dress options to choose from – when mothers become too focused on particular colors, they often overlook dresses that would look amazing on them. The rule of thumb is that the mothers may wear any color as long as it doesn’t clash with the bridesmaids’ dresses or the general wedding palette.

Make sure that mom feels really good in whatever dress she ends up wearing. Mothers are often so intent on pleasing the bride that they end up with dresses that they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves. Make sure that the dress is representative of her personality, that she truly feels great in it, and that it’s comfortable (both emotionally and physically) for her.

While the wedding day focus will be on the bride and groom and the life they’re creating together, a child’s wedding day is such a special occasion for mom and dad, too. A little extra time spent loving on mama throughout your engagement and especially as she’s choosing her dress will go a long way to making it an incredible experience for everyone!


Creative Ways to Use Shawls

With just a few basic styling techniques you can transform a shawl from a simple piece of fabric to an eye-catching accessory in only a matter of seconds!

Mother’s in Style

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T. Carolyn Fashions’ Terrie Martin styles Brides’ & Grooms’ Mothers to Perfection.

In much the same way that brides are opting for weddings that are more personalized and reflective of  their taste and style, mothers, too are looking for dresses that are representative of their own attitudes and sensibilities, gone are the days of the dowdy or overdone. Mom is looking for something youthful and chic, an outfit that truly expresses who she really is and how meaningful this special day is in her life.

The wide variety of venues, wedding themes and color schemes has ushered in a wildly diverse selection of dresses for mothers. A mother just starting out on her wedding day shopping journey, the selection can be downright overwhelming.

Click HERE to continue reading…



Fashion Advice for Breast Cancer Survivors

breastcancerAs seen in, “Weddings in Houston…”

Breast cancer survivors & patients – tips & advice on looking fabulous!


Mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom are always special; it’s just that some mothers are more special than others. October is breast cancer awareness month and this article is dedicated to breast cancer survivors and those who are currently fighting and undergoing treatment.


It’s no secret that most MOBs and MOGs find shopping for a dress for the wedding notoriously stressful. Mothers who are trying to cover mastectomies, radiation burns, port-a-caths, scars, and those who suffer from lymphedema and have one arm larger than the other, obviously find the experience to be exponentially more stressful.


The Facts


You are not alone. 2.6 million women in the U.S. are undergoing treatment for breast cancer or are survivors.


The good news is that with a few minor modifications you can still wear any number of beautiful dresses. And the best part is that, executed properly, they will look like custom-designed dresses.


The most common mistake women who’ve had breast cancer make is in obsessing over necklines. Quite frequently they go overboard and will only look at dresses with ultra high necklines. This obsession blinds them to all of the beautiful options surrounding them. I often see women so fixated on covering up that they overlook styles that would look incredible on them. As a result, they end up wearing mediocre, unflattering, matronly dresses.


Knowing where to shop, when to shop and a few simple tips will make the process much less stressful and can make the difference between a dress that looks flawless and a dress that looks like it’s trying to cover flaws. A flawless dress should always look as if every design detail was intended by the designer.


Helpful Tips


The most common design challenges facing breast cancer survivors are raising necklines and enlarging sleeves. These obviously require fabric. The first option is to take fabric from the dress itself, either from the hemline, a stole or sometimes from sleeves.


When modifications require more fabric than can be harvested from the dress, it’s always best to order fabric from the manufacturer. It is important to note that there can be vast differences in the dye lots of fabrics, so it’s always preferable to order a dress with extra fabric to ensure the fabrics match.


Customization and Fabric


If you need to order a dress, it’s always best to allow 14 weeks for delivery, unless it’s at a time that is being affected by Chinese New Year, since the majority of dress manufacturing occurs in China. Chinese New Year typically affects the months of October through March. During this time, order time can extend to as much as 21 weeks, so it’s best to shop early.


It typically takes six weeks to order fabric. This is important if you’ve found a dress, but don’t have the luxury of 14 or more weeks to order another. Most people underestimate how long it takes for fabric to arrive.


Don’t worry if you find yourself in the position of having to order fabric without the assurance of a matching dye lot. Anything you receive from the manufacturer will be much closer than what you will find in a fabric shop and you won’t spend hours driving around matching up swatches.


Where to Shop


Department store dresses are mass-produced. These dresses are made all at one time in what’s known as a “cutting.” The factories in China (and a few other countries) only buy enough fabric to cut the exact number of dresses that have been ordered; therefore it’s not possible to order extra fabric for these dresses. These factories just aren’t set up to help with special requests. They work off of large numbers, plain and simple.


Your best bet in trying to order extra fabric lies with designers who are carried in specialty stores or by designers who also create bridal gowns. These designers are used to special orders and their factories have fabric on hand. They are much more user friendly and are usually happy to assist in ordering extra fabric, trim, beads, etc.


These dresses come in a range of prices, so don’t be afraid to venture outside of the department store. It’s also worth mentioning that the fabric, beads and other accoutrements that go with these dresses are usually quite reasonably priced. If you’re really in a bind, these designers sometimes have an extra stole on hand that can be shipped out quickly if you are desperate for extra fabric.


Style Solutions


I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that the most common modification needed for breast cancer survivors is raising the neckline. Don’t worry, there’s no need to be intimidated. It’s actually quite easy and it can be done in a number of aesthetically pleasing ways.


If the dress has a V-neck that is too deep, it’s easy to add fabric that retains the V shape. If the bodice is ruched, the fabric being added to the neckline can be ruched as well. Lace, net, appliqués or any other design elements from the dress can be incorporated along the neckline as well. This goes for sweetheart necklines as well.  Let me be clear, there is absolutely no reason to sew a boring piece of fabric that sort-of-matches across a neckline in an attempt to cover up.


Don’t ever be afraid of a strapless gown. It is often possible to add a large appliqué, 3-dimensional flower, or build up a crumb catcher for dimension that covers the bust. If you’ve found a strapless gown that you adore, but you’re not comfortable in strapless or need more coverage, you can easily add a single shoulder strap to create a one-shoulder gown. Not only do straps obviously help hold a dress up, they can be a great distraction from scars and help cover port-a-caths.


Plain straps are just plain boring so consider straps that are pleated or tapered. Be creative! You might even consider adding a strap that is wide in the front and separates into three smaller straps diagonally across the back. This is known as a sunburst strap and it looks amazing from the back. By using fabric, lace and beading from the dress to make the straps, you will end up with a beautiful one-of-a-kind gown that you’ll love.


If you suffer from lymphedema and have a problem with sleeves being too tight, it’s relatively easy to sew a strip of matching fabric under the sleeve to make it bigger.  This is known as a gusset. If your arm is larger than what a gusset will allow for, the sleeve can be detached, the armhole can be cut larger and a new, larger sleeve can be constructed and sewed on. No one will ever know the difference!


Once you’ve gotten used to making these simple changes, dressing for special occasions will be a snap. With these simple tips, you’ll have more choices, less stress and more fun leading up to the wedding. Remember, when it comes to your dress, you don’t have to settle. As a mother of the bride or mother of the groom you deserve to look as beautiful and confident as the bride herself.


–Terrie Martin, T. Carolyn Fashions


For more expert MOB/MOG shopping advice, and to view the season’s most beautiful wedding-day and special-occasion styles, visit T. Carolyn Fashions.



Mother of the Bride Style Solutions for Any Shape

slide_285664_2206496_freeAs seen in, “Huffington Post…”


As a co-owner and dress consultant at T. Carolyn Fashions, I navigate the front lines of family conflict — helping moms look great and satisfying the bride’s often strident opinions. Even with 21 years in the business and 100,000 dresses sold, dressing a mother of the bride can be more challenging than dressing the actual bride!


Mothers often panic when faced with having to search for a dress for their child’s wedding. To begin with, they don’t shop for formal or semi-formal attire every day. In addition, most mothers don’t have the same figure they had when they were brides. Last, but certainly not least, everyone they know and love will be sitting in one room watching them walk down the aisle too. The pressure is enormous!


Obviously every mother wants to look her best for her child’s wedding, but where to begin? The good news is that if you know which styles best suit your figure, you are more than halfway there!


To make the process easier, I have listed specific figure issues or body types. I have included style suggestions and pictures (from several different designers) to help further illustrate my points; as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”!


Finding the Best Style for Your Figure

View slideshow of styles here!

Style Solutions:

• For women who are thick-waisted, soft diagonal ruching or pleating at the waist will create the illusion of curves.

• For the full busted woman who wants to wear a strapless gown, consider a one-shoulder gown instead. The diagonal cut provides a bit more coverage, and is extremely flattering as well as being quite fashionable. In addition, the one-shoulder design will provide the support of a strap which will prevent the wearer from tugging on her dress all night, trying to keep it up. Another excellent option would be an asymmetrical neckline, which is flattering to all body types.

• For women who want to cover their arms but aren’t willing to look matronly, stoles can be used creatively in many different ways. They can be draped around the shoulders (if wearing a sleeveless dress) in differing degrees and attached to the shoulder to provide coverage without the hassle of having to hold on to it all night — as you would with a regular stole. It can also be gathered and tacked under the arms to create a shrug-like effect. Be creative, and experiment! You’ll be surprised with what you come up with.

Tall gals can really use their height to their advantage. They can wear big, full skirts, make the most of mermaid skirts, and wear beautiful bold accent pieces such as large structured bows with beading on one-shoulder gowns and wear patterns that the average woman can’t pull off. A number of special occasion designers create their gowns with the tall gal in mind, so length isn’t an issue. Instead of being insecure about their height (which happens occasionally), they should really celebrate it.

Petite women should avoid full skirts, ultra stiff fabrics, large prints, portrait collars, and in general anything that isn’t scaled to their proportions — i.e., large ruffled collars or bows. Petite women do well in soft fabrics such as chiffon, stretch net and jersey. Taffeta will work as long as it’s not to stiff and bulky. V-necklines and asymmetrical necklines should be considered as well, and ruched bodices are ideal on petites

Plus-size women have so many beautiful choices! Plus-size women less than 5’4″ are considered Women’s Petites. They will dress differently than their taller counterparts. Women’s Petites do better in softer less structured styles. Layers and diagonal cuts are important for them and will give the illusion of height. Women’s sizes are for plus-size gals who are taller. These women will be able to wear the stiffer fabrics and fuller skirts — depending on their height. V-necklines and ruching are both extremely flattering and should be considered. As with the Women’s Petites, soft fabrics with layers and diagonal cuts are always a good option.

Hopefully, this tutorial has provided insight, alleviated some of the stress and given you a good starting point. Remember, the goal should always be to spend less time shopping and more time making memories!

If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, tune into Mother of The Bride airing back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on SliceTM.



10 Top-Selling Mother of the Bride Dresses

As seen in, “BridalGuide.com…

By: Terrie Martin

Mothers of the bride and groom, this is the second-most important outfit you’ll ever wear (after your own wedding gown, of course). Every day, moms come to my store and tell me that they “don’t want to look matronly.” Their voices are almost pleading for help and they have a look of desperation in their eyes that can only be compared to that of someone being held hostage.
The good news: Thanks to the incredible diversity of dress styles, sizes, and fabrics, moms have more options than ever before. To help make the vetting process easier, I’ve selected dresses to make you look (and feel) like a million bucks at your child’s wedding! Find out what makes each one a standout with my customers and which styles are best suited for your body type.


Daymor, Style 7003

Why moms love it: This is a mock three-piece dress constructed from satin back crepe. “This gown’s forte is its embellished basket weave bodice, which creates a small waist and overall curves.” The trumpet skirt has great movement, which is perfect for your spotlight dance.

Best for: Plus sizes and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit daymor.com for more info.





Kathy Weddings by 2Be, Style 2BE263

Why moms love it: This net and chiffon gown is perfect for the woman who has curves! “The V-neckline elongates the torso and the full chiffon skirt is good for those who carry extra weight in their lower half.” The net sleeves provide coverage for arms, but does so in a very cool and comfortable way. The tonal beading on the bodice gives off just the right amount of shimmer.

Best for: Plus sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit kathyirelandformoncheri.com for more info.




Black Label by Alyce, Style 5518

Why moms love it: This strapless drop-waist gown is nothing short of stunning. Its unique skirt is made from soft tulle and organza. Wear the matching bolero with hand-beaded lace appliqués for the ceremony, then remove it later on during the reception.

Best for: Misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit alyceparis.com for more info.





Rina di Montella, Style 1206

Why moms love it: The beading on this soft taffeta gown is exceptional—it resembles a corset shape, creating the illusion of a smaller waist. Also, this is one of the few gowns that comes with both a bolero jacket and a shawl. Available in many different color combinations.

Best for: Plus sizes and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit rinadimontella.com for more info.





Jade by Jasmine, Style J4408

Why moms love it: Hand-beaded, three-dimensional flowers on the shoulder strap create a feminine look. Its A-line skirt has just enough fullness. This gown comes in an array of colors, so it’s easy to find the perfect match for your daughter or son’s big day.

Best for: Petites and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit jasminebridal.com for more info.





Jade Couture by Jasmine, Style K2283

Why moms love it: If Mom isn’t a fan of strapless styles, point her to a dress with exquisite lace-capped sleeves, instead. “The sweetheart neckline and ruched waist with beading are extremely flattering.” Perfect for the warmer summer months, this Tiffany chiffon dress has a beautiful iridescent sheen.

Best for: Misses and petite sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit jasminebridal.com for more info.






Jade Couture by Jasmine, Style K2283

Who says a show-stopping lace back is relegated just for the bride?








Soulmates, Style C1060

Why moms love it: Not only is this gown extremely comfortable (it’s constructed of silk and silk blend ribbon), but it also has a beautiful fit-and-flare shape. It’s got Mom covered from every angle: The jacket is longer in the back, and the “camisole provides a ‘tummy break’ for those problem areas.”

Best for: Plus sizes and some misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit soulmatesilk.com for more info.





Damianou, Style 1692

Why moms love it: Constructed from scalloped metallic yarn, this airy dress would feel right at home in a seaside bash. The cut of the jacket is very flattering on the body and looks especially good from behind. “This dress is great for women who are thick in the middle or are top heavy.”

Best for: Plus sizes and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit damianouny.com for more info.





Ursula of Switzerland, Style 11192

Why moms love it: This vintage-inspired chiffon dress is appropriate for a destination or outdoor wedding. The diagonal layers on the skirt elongate the body, and the ruffles on the jacket add a soft, elegant touch.

Best for: Petites and misses sizes.

Where to buy it: Visit ursula.com for more info.




Terrie Tibbetts Martin is co-owner of T. Carolyn, a store specializing in mother of the bride and mother of the groom dresses. Located in Houston, Texas, T. Carolyn has been in business for over 20 years and carries 2,500 dresses for moms of all shapes and sizes. Terrie and her mother/partner, Barbara Tibbetts, star in a new television show, Mother of the Bride, which launched in January on the Slice Channel in Canada.

Accessories for the Mother of the Bride: The Finishing Touch


As seen in, “Huffington Post…


Accessories — The Finishing Touch!


One of the biggest mistakes mothers make is in breathing a sigh of relief once they have decided upon their dress, and completely forgetting about the accessories. Accessories are to a mother’s dress what a frame is to a painting. It completes the picture and draws the eye in.


Jewelry: Necklaces and earrings add sparkle around the face as mothers walk down the aisle and are viewed at the reception. The proper earring can bring out cheekbones and showcase bone structure, actually giving a lift to the face. The perfect necklace can frame the face and even elongate the upper torso. If a mother chooses to wear an asymmetrical neckline or a one-shoulder gown, great earrings paired with an oversized bracelet will truly make a statement. In addition, there’s nothing like the sparkle of crystals to bring out and enhance hand-beading and sewn crystals on dresses and gowns.


Purse: Mothers should not forget to carry a purse. Not only does a chic clutch look smart, it has the added bonus of keeping the mother’s arm in check as she’s escorted down the aisle. Most importantly, it is invaluable for carrying all those little necessities (such as a handkerchief, compact, and lipstick) needed for drying tears and touching up after the ceremony, before additional photo are taken. For the mother who doesn’t want to wear a corsage, flowers may be attached to the purse as an elegant alternative.


Shoes: Comfortable shoes are a must. For those with serious foot problems, it is perfectly acceptable to slip into a second more comfortable pair at the reception. If a gown is being worn, it is important to check before hand to make sure the hem will still be the proper length if changing into a lower heel. This will avoid possible tripping and damage to the gown itself. Speaking of damage, if a shoe with rhinestones is chosen, make sure to check to see if the stones are set in prongs. These prongs will snag and tear the hemline of a gown. If this occurs, the only way to salvage the gown is to convert it into a short dress.


If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, tune into Mother of The Bride airing back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on SliceTM.



Mother of The Bride Dresses: You Don’t Need to Match the Napkins

sei86967fabricsbig2As seen in, “Huffington Post…

Just say “No” to Swatches

All day, everyday, I have brides (and mothers by extension) walk through the door with fabric swatches in their hands. The swatches are the colour of the bridesmaid’s dresses, flowers, tablecloths, ribbons and even carpeting! The end goal is to have a stunningly beautiful wedding in which everyone matches. The problem with this approach is that at it’s most fundamental level it doesn’t work.

Interior designers are known for their colour and design boards. This approach works well for their discipline. Swatches are fine if we’re talking about carpet, curtains, and decorative pillows. Putting colour on real people is an entirely different matter. The problem for mothers is that no matter how beautiful the colour of the dress, and no matter what it matches, if it doesn’t look good on the mother, she will ultimately look terrible walking down the aisle.

After her own wedding gown, a mother of the bride (or groom) dress is the next most important dress a mother will ever wear; and after her own wedding, it’s the next most photographed event in her life. The importance of selecting the right colour for a mother’s dress cannot be overstated.


How to Look Fabulous

It may sound overly simplistic, but looking great begins with a colour that looks great on you.


Colours to Avoid

Champagne, peach, mauve and other similar colours are far more challenging to wear and look best on dark skinned women. Lighter coloured fabrics themselves don’t photograph as well and any special detailing such as beading, ruching, or embroidery will be lost in the pictures.

Platinum, silver and grey look best on women with silver hair, salt and pepper hair and occasionally jet-black hair. Anyone wanting to wear this colour should proceed with caution. These extremely cool colours are difficult to wear for warm toned women such as blondes and those with auburn hair. Certain shades of grey, with heavy blue under-tones, can sometimes be worn by blondes and those with blue eyes.


Colours to Look for

Jewel tone colours, such as teal green, teal blue, purple, turquoise, periwinkle, fuchsia and sapphire are youthful, flattering colours that always photograph well. These colours work well for Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian women. These deeper colours also look fabulous next to black tuxedos.


The Take Away

Leave the swatches to the interior designers and find a colour that looks stunning on you. No one is going to remember that you matched the napkins; they’re only going to remember how you looked walking down the aisle!

If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, tune into Mother of The Bride airing back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on Slice.



What Petite Sizes Really Mean for Mother of the Bride Dresses

Dresses-on-Mannequins-220x141As seen in, “Huffington Post…

Many women think that “petite” means small, when in fact it doesn’t. There are a number of women who are short and plus size. They are often shocked to find out that they are “petite” — women’s petite.


What is a women’s petite?

Unfortunately, women’s petite is the most difficult specialty size to obtain. While petites in general have become increasingly more difficult to find, women’s petite have become the most difficult to find. It’s unfortunate that more manufacturers don’t realize what a large percentage of the population need women’s petites.

Of all the specialty sizes, I believe women’s petite makes the biggest difference in fit and in the end, appearance.

A regular women’s size won’t work on a petite, plus size woman. The proportions will be all wrong. The jacket will be too long, the bust line will be too low, the waist will be too long, the hips will hit in the wrong place and she will look like a little girl playing dress-up.

While most petite sizes will be shorter in length and have shorter sleeves, the length of the bodice is the major differentiator, as it’s the most difficult to correct for alterations.


Check the fit

Always look for excess fabric in the back — I refer to this as “bucokkling.” This is the telltale sign of needing a petite. I am amazed at how many women are oblivious to this. Brides, mothers and bridesmaids need to pay particular attention to this. You certainly don’t want to have this fit problem walking down the aisle — when everyone is staring at your back.


Alteration options

If you are unable to find a dress you like in women’s petite, which is quite likely to happen, there are some fixes:

• If the dress has straps, they can usually be pulled up to correct for the length in the bodice. Occasionally, the armhole may have to be cut deeper to allow the dress to be lifted properly. It is important to make sure that the straps aren’t shortened to the point where the bust points are no longer in their proper place.

• If the dress has sleeves and the back is buckling, the only option is to remove the sleeves, shorten the dress through the seam on the shoulders and sew the sleeves back on. The same applies to a jacket that is running too long waisted, as well. This would only apply to a long jacket and not a bolero jacket, as bolero jackets are already short. These alterations will prove to be more costly.

• Please note: There are certain styles in which it is impossible to shorten the extra length in the bodice. These are typically strapless gowns with no break in the bodice. A qualified consultant and/or seamstress should be able to guide you on this; but proceed cautiously, as I have seen many cases over the years where stores have assured women that this type of alteration could be performed when it actually couldn’t.


Styles to look for

An easier option than alterations is to look for less structured dresses and dresses with shorter, to the top of the hip, jackets. In this particular case it is important to remember that the more structured a garment is, the more alterations necessary to make it work for a woman who is either a petite or women’s petite.


Now that you know

With a bit of luck, perseverance and this knowledge, it is possible to find a dress perfectly suited to your proportions.

If you want to delve further into the exciting world of weddings, I invite you to tune into my new show Mother of The Bride premiering back-to-back episodes every Friday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on Slice.



Mother of the Bride TV Show

moofthebrideT.Carolyn’s reality TV Show, Mother of the Bride, was launched on January 4, on the Slice channel in Canada, (http://www.slice.ca/). We will make an announcement when our show is chosen by a U.S. Broadcaster. Stay tuned!!!

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